First Lady Patience Jonathan on Friday advised parents to ensure that their children were immunised and given Vitamin A supplement during the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Week (MNCHW).
Jonathan, who was represented by Mrs Helen Mark, wife of the Senate President, said this in Abuja at the commencement of the week with theme `A package of care for healthy family’.
“I want to encourage all parents and guardians to ensure that all their children under five years are presented at the nearest health facility to receive the necessary immunisation, vitamin A supplement as well as get de-wormed.”
She said the week would be used to strengthen primary health care and increase coverage of health interventions for the mothers and children
It would also enable the nation move closer to achieving the health sector Millennium Development Goals.
Jonathan said it would no more be acceptable to make excuses for why one in every 13 Nigerian women might in childbirth or up to 157 out of every 1,000 children might die before they fifth birthday.
According to her, the week will give the country good opportunity to do something about this unacceptable situation.
The first lady urged the health workers to remain dedicated to their duties and ensure that every mother and child in the communities is reached with essential health services.
In her speech, Mrs Olajumoke Akinjide, FCT Minister for State , said the territory had procured and distributed life saving drugs like albendazole, anti-malaria fesolate, folic acid and oral rehydration salt to 248 health facilities.
Akinjide said they would use the week to further strengthen actions and measures that would adequately address the state of health care delivery in the territory.
She said vitamin A coverage in 2011 was 86 per cent while cumulative Diphtheria, Pertusis (whoop cough) and tetanus (DPT) was 78 per cent.
The minister said due the strategies put in place, FCT has been free of wild polio virus in the past ten years.
Akinjide called on parents to ensure that they patronise skilled health workers for better health services.
Also speaking, Dr Suomi Sakai, UNICEF’s Representative, commended the high level of commitment shown by chief executives and policy makers in the country.
Sakai said “In the past three years, MNCHWs has been a platform through which millions of children, mothers and pregnant women receive life-saving interventions.”
She said at the moment, the maternal mortality and child survival indices still remained very unacceptably poor for Nigeria.
“Infant and under-five mortality rates (IMR and USMR, respectively) have not declined and the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) has also remained far too high, date from DHS 2008 indicated an IMR of 75 and U5MR of 157 per thousand live births.”
Sakai said these rates were among the hightest in the world and it means that an average of approximately 1400 infant and an additional 970 children aged one to four die every day.